Dear prospective contributor,
As announced a few weeks ago, in line with the development of ours and the national consciousness, we want to move Vanguard towards being a radical black feminist platform speaking to the intersectionality of queer politics, Black Consciousness, pan-Africanism and womanism.
That’s not to say all articles, be they cultural reviews or opinion pieces, must begin with bell hooks and end with Fanon, and must only speak directly to ‘decolonisation’. Rather, it is that even when we write about Idols or a great fashion exhibition, that that lens be used. We will be pushing writers, especially of opinion pieces, to problematise themselves and their lenses as they write.
It will be a challenge, it will be uncomfortable but we think it’s exciting.
Vanguard is where we write what we like. This is a space where young black voices don’t have to explain, italicise or censor themselves, because, Blackness, Black Womanhood, Black Queerness, Black Radicalness.
In short we, a womanist platform, are looking at the following (If you have read this before, skip to‘Submission housekeeping’):
Writers must be:
• Black: In a White Supremacist Capitalist world it is important Black perspectives are centred and as such we use the Black Consciousness definition of Blackness, namely that of those who have the experience of being historically oppressed socio-economically as non-whites. Genuine white allies will know to create their own platforms and speak to their own communities.
• Committed to Intersectional/Black Feminist/ Womanist Politics: We are not looking for vice Gqolas, vice bell hooks or vice Audre Lordes, but what we mean is a commitment to understanding and pursuing perspectives within this framework. As with all the pillars, we welcome writers at whatever point they are on their journeys in consciousness, provided that they can be reflective and self-critical. This means that the call is open to both women and men (no Steve Harveys and Hoteps please). Women will of course be prioritised as a marginalised group and within that, black queer women.
• Committed to Black Queer Politics: Again, vice Audre Lorde or vice Laverne Cox you do not need to be, but you need to be committed. Black queer women will be prioritised.
• Committed to Black Consciousness and pan-Africanist Principles: Third time, we are not looking for vice Bikos, vice Fanons and vice Cabrals. All Africans on the continent and outside the continent are welcome.
• Committed to being Self-Critical and Reflective: In short, you need to be able to honest about your position in society, your experiences. Most importantly, you must be able to check your privilege: If you are black and middle class, you need to be able to problematise that. If you are black and male, you need to problematise that. If you are black and cisgender, you need to be able to problematise that. If you are black and light-skinned, you need to be able to problematise that. And so forth and so on and such. It’s not about self-flogging, it’s just about being able to be critical.
• Committed to loving all Black people: Without sounding trite, it is often said “You cannot lead them if you do not love them”. We are looking for thought leadership that comes from a place of love.
PLEASE NOTE: This is not and/or! We don’t want your Black Consciousness if it is patriarchal. We don’t want your feminism if it is homophobic. We don’t want your feminism if its transphobic. And. And. And. Please let us not pick and choose oppressions to fight against.
Writing must be:
- In any of the 11 official languages: Feel free to write in any language and we will commit to trying to publish as much outside of English as possible.
- Considered: We are not interested in controversy for the sake of controversy, or radicalism for the sake of radicalism. We want you to think through what you are saying, why you are saying it and if there is anything new you are saying.
- Contextualised: We are not interested in Capitalist Nigger-esque writing that victim blames oppressed people and ignores historic socio-economic conditions. For example, we will not publish any “weaves vs afroes” pieces that shame weave-wearers but do not speak of school codes of conduct that ban “exotic hair such as afroes” or workplace discrimination of natural hair. Likewise, we will not publish pieces on absent black fathers without any reference to the migrant labour system, etc.
- General procedure: The long and short is just write and submit (in a word document). Please do submit your articles straight away, so that we can have a look and give feedback. We are not in a position to be able to brainstorm article ideas with all contributors especially if we have not seen your work before, so please do give us something to work with. Of course, if you want do something like an interview for Vanguard, i.e. something that necessarily involves our name and third parties, please do clear it with us before hand
- The contact persons: Panashe Chigumadzi on and Thato Magano on
- Send us examples of other work: This is of course optional. It’s helpful because we can then get a better understanding of your writing style and topics
- ‘Out of the box’ article/concept Pitch: You might have something that is a little ‘out of the ordinary’ that you might want to pitch. Maybe you want to do a series of recorded interviews with awesome black queer women you know or you want to do a documentary or you want to create a monthly line up of events for the site, whatever, you tell us! We are keen to explore. Do send us a short paragraph explaining very briefly what you would like to do, what it would require etc etc and we can then give feedback on the concept.
- Email Subject: Please ensure that your email is sent with a subject in the following format [ARTICLE NAME] [YOUR NAME]. This helps us to keep track of submissions.
- Names: Please use real names and let us know if you are using a nom de plume aka a writing name. This is important for accountability sake.
Bio: Please do include a one to three line max bio of yourself, so people know who they are dealing with and importantly can give us an insight into why you are interested in the subject matter. For example:
- Panashe Magano is a third year law student at Wits University who is interested in gender and it’s representations in music. She blogs at panashesays.tumblr.com ;
- Thato Chigumadzi is a first-time father and filmmaker who lives eRhini;
- Katleho Mampane is a member of the Silly Buggers Collective and lives in Langa.
- Basic spelling and grammar rules: Far too much time is spent on this, and if this cannot be done, we will simply not respond if this is not done.
- Strictly Word document: Please do not paste your work in the email body. Please make sure it is on a word document. Strictly word.
- Hyperlink: If you reference a famous document, person, work etc etc, (or simply something that can be found with a google search) please do include the hyperlink, so that audiences can read further in their own time.
- Your twitter handle: Please do include your twitter handle so we can tag you in our tweets. Also, if we are ‘together’ on Facebook, it is easier to tag you in posts about your articles if you like us
- Republishing: We are open to republishing great pieces that you might have posted elsewhere.
- Publishing deadlines: We publish every Tuesday, so the latest that we would require the final drafts from you is Monday afternoon.
- Plagiarism: Don’t. Just don’t. Proper referencing and crediting is important. Let’s respect black intellectual property. If it is brought to our attention that you have sent us plagiarised work, then well, after school is after school.
- Payment: The long and short is that we are not in a position to pay contributors, at this stage at least. We quite literally operate without a budget. We all work, edit and write for free, for the love of Blackness, Black Womanhood and Black Queerness. This is not to remain this way in the long term (enough of the world has been built on free black labour!) but in the meantime, we will have to ask you to bear with us.
Overall, we want to know what Womanism, Back queer politics, Black Consciousness and pan-Africanism mean for you on a Monday morning. In other words, we want to publish writing that is less ‘pie-in-the-sky’ and speaks to our lived experiences. We want to know what it means for you to live those politics!
- General: Please do go through as much of the site as possible. Yes, its a way for us to generate traffic, but more importantly, its a way to get to have better understanding of Vanguard’s style of writing across various contributors and formats
- Personal anecdotes: Personal anecdotes are always a great way to connect the broader topic to yourself. It makes it easier for the audience to relate and it also forces you to be honest, which in turn forces the reader to be honest with themselves.
- Write it from YOUR perspective and YOUR experience: Yes, you are not 50. Yes, you don’t have a PhD in 20th Century Matriarchal Societies in Africa. Yes, you haven’t even gotten through the first year of your first job. Yes, you have not been in politics since you were nine. Maybe you do have these, maybe you don’t. Nomakanjane, we want to hear the story from your perspective. Your experience is valuable to us and the reader. If you are doubting your voice, please read this piece written to help with those doubtful voices in your head “A Note on Voice: Your voice and your perspective is important”
- Generalisations: There’s a fine line between #NotAllMen, #NotAllWhitePeople, and generalisations. It’s tricky, but we still think we can generalise about systems of power and still speak with nuance. Let us work towards that.
Please see below the various sections that we have on the site. We have included a wide range of articles by different contributors so that you can get a sense of how while we do try and maintain a ‘house style’ and ‘perspective’ – there are many ways of writing and approaching subject matter.
Importantly, we are aiming to capture the fullness of our Womanist black lives, we want to be able to laugh, cry, rage and SMH all on our pages. These are just a small portion of the more than 500 articles we have published over the past year, it would be helpful if you went through more of the site on your own to get a better sense of how we write.
- Inviting Street Harassment: When ink, piercings, a vagina and black skin intersect
- Of Handbags and Heterosexism: The trouble with straight woman – gay man relationships
- On finding liberatory masculinities
- Let’s talk about Khanyi Mbau’s ‘drive-thru’ hair salons
- Why I’m glad that I failed in my twenties
- Life Inside The Storm: Young, gifted and depressed
- Are we really listening to each other?
- Student Uprisings in South Africa have exposed the cracks of our “freedom”
Articles (More objective reportage):
- The Pussy Palace: A woman’s pleasure
- Of Angels and Ancestors: Christianity and traditional belief systems in 2014
- This Hip Hop Ain’t Loyal: Why isn’t hip-hop down for women?
- Symbolic Annihilation and Inclusiveness: Why Heritage Day needs to do more than a chisa nyama
- ‘Live the dream the June 16th youth died for’: The reductive and ahistorical revisionism of the class of ’15
- Everybody Needs A Little Loving: Love across tax brackets
- The Palatability Police: The politics of who gets to have a voice
- Taking our cities back: A case of urban colonisation or urban revival?
- The Finances of Shacking Up Without Breaking Up
Culture (Film, music, books, theatre reviews, playlists etc):
- Boom Shaka, Box braids and Boomboxes: The generation brought up by Kwaito
- The Bechdel Test: Film and Feminism 101
- Letter to Makhosazana Xaba on Running and Other Stories
- Book Review: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okarafor
- Assata Shakur, Malcolm X and Taiye Selasi on K*ffr Hare
- Album Review: A revolutionary firebrand?
- Artist Profile: TDE Stars SZA and Schoolboy Q
- Event Review: WAM Doing Hair Disappointment
- Travelling While Black, and A Woman: Experiences from China, Turkey and Nigeria
- WHEN IN: Accra, Ghana with Akosua
Other writing forms:
- Bonang, Glamour and a system that produces ‘first blacks’ and ‘tokens’
- Hair, Hypocrisy and Sexism Collide: Sisonke Msimang takes on Hugh Masekela ’s anti-weave misogynoir
- Dookoom’s Larney Jou Poes: An inconvenient truth for a 20 year old democracy
- #BlackPovertyArt: Is the depiction of black poverty in art authentic or just offensive?
- A black feminist’s 15 New Years’ Resolutions in a time of twitter, Bonang and 12 Apostles
- Six of the best sites for African literature
- Best online workout videos for black women by black women
- Protective Styling: 9 Do’s and Don’t’s for Braids
- Stylist Siki’s six best colour moments
- Stylist Siki’s 10 office survival tips for an intern
Creative Writing (poetry, short stories etc)